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TPG Week 71: The Final Draft Trap

| May 4, 2012 | 10 Comments

Welcome to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have Brave One Jeff Bass stepping up to show his stuff. One word before we begin: There may be some wonky things going on with the format. Jeff chose to use all caps for his panel descriptions for a page or two, and then switched to sentence case. So there may be some instances of strangeness when I converted it. It’s okay. Just roll with it. Now, let’s see what happens with

The warner report

Issue 1 – The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning

By jeffry o. Bass

Page 1

PaNEL 1

TEXT: Kingman, AZ 1953 (If this is supposed to appear in the panel, it should be under the panel description. Also if you want to be sure to be understood clearly, call this CAPTION instead of TEXT. Oh and comma-fail.)

A dry watercourse. A large clearing seems to stretch on forever, basking in the hot sun blaring above. There are no signs of life in the immediate area.

A beaming reflection from the sun bounces off an object high above. It is but a sliver in the distant sky. (What you’re doing here is prose writing, not panel describing. A real panel description would include a reference pic of this very specific location, a camera angle and would present elements from left to right or front to back. Finally, if we’re “in the Hulapai Mountains southeast of Kingman”, then we’re not really in Kingman, are we? Change your caption to reflect this.)

PanEL 2

Duplicate of PANEL 1. Falling at an alarming rate, (You can’t “fall at an alarming rate” but it’s possible to “fall at an alarming speed”. But this is a moot point since the artist will only be able to draw movement (with speed lines) rather than the actual speed of the movement.) the object is now in full view. It is a flying saucer on a collision course with the Earth below. (Is it flying towards us? Is this a side shot? See, this is where we see the difference between describing a panel and just telling what happens. You’re just telling what’s happening, Jeff, and your artist won’t know what to draw.) The ship appears to be a dull silver, possibly brushed aluminum. (There’s no way that either the artist, the inker or the colorist will be able to convey the exact texture of the flying saucer’s exterior, especially not from a distance.)

PANEL 3

Duplicate of PANEL 1. The craft clashes (“crashes”) into the ground at a 45 degree angle. Debris splinters off in all directions, but the body of the craft remains largely intact. (

KRRAAASSH! (Sound effects should be preceded by a SFX header like this:

SFX: KRRAAASSH

Also, as you can see in my example, unlike spoken lines, sound effects don’t require punctuation.)

Panel 4

Duplicate of PANEL 1. The saucer skids to a halt, (No, either it’s still moving and the artist will show it with movement lines and a cloud of dust, or it’s stopped – no in-betweens. What you’re asking cannot be drawn.) a trail of destruction in it’s (“its”) wake. An enormous trench dug out from the point of impact to it’s (“its”) final resting place. The ship remains embedded almost two feet into the Earth, at a 45 degree angle. (Just for the sake of argument, at what speed exactly – apart from “alarming” – was the saucer “falling”? If it was really free-falling from space, hitting the ground at 45 degrees, it would half-explode, half-bury itself and create a crater the size of a baseball stadium, lifting up a cloud of dust that would blot out the sun. The tremor would be felt as far as Mexico and Canada – not something that could be covered up easily. Think of a meteor crash. If it was a semi-controlled entry – like a crash-landing – then it wouldn’t hit the ground at 45 degrees but the pilot would try landing with the flat underside, skidding for a couple of bounces and then leaving a huge trench before friction finally stopped the craft. You can’t have it “fall”, hit at 45 degrees, and keep on sliding at the same angle. You’re going to get called out on that lack of logic and the first one doing it will be your artist who has to draw this.)

(I liked what you tried to do with the reusing of the same shot. All that was missing to make it work was a better understanding of what you can ask of your artist.)

This page is rather generic, for all of its spaceship crashy-ness. At 4 panels, it moves fast, which is good, but you could have done a little more to set the scene. I’d add another panel before the object shows up in the sky. Just give it a bit more room to breathe, especially since you have almost no dialogue on the page.

Notice, I’m not dinging you on the lack of dialogue. Not yet. It could work here. It all depends on the tone you set whenever someone starts talking—either a narrator or character in the story.

Notice, I said that it COULD work. I haven’t gotten to P2 yet. Generally, I’m all over silent opening pages. Usually, there’s too much for the writer to do in setting up the story to afford the lack of space. However, in this case, I’m thinking it could work. There’s little reason to clutter this up with words when the picture is doing the heavy lifting in telling the story.

As for the panel descriptions themselves, there are problems. The biggest one is clarity, followed closely by impossibilities. I had to read the first panel description a few times in order to understand what you were going for. Not good. Clarity.

Now, the angle of the fall should be MUCH more acute. 45 degrees is much too sharp. It’s going to basically just fall and explode, and then the story is over. Instead, you want to make the angle much, much sharper. I’d say no more than 20 degrees, and that is still way too much. Probably about 10 degrees. And I hate to tell you, the ship is going to be a hell of a lot deeper than 2 measly feet in the ground. Unless it doesn’t weigh much, which I doubt.

The angle you want tells me something, though. You didn’t do your research. You’re just writing. Not good. If you’re lucky, your artist will make you look good and correct your very obvious and very glaring mistake. Otherwise, they’ll look bad, and no artist wants to look bad. Study. Learn. It does a writer good.

 

(Page break) Page 2

Panel 1

TEXT: Tacoma, WA 2012 (Put this under the panel description. And comma-fail.)

Exterior of The News Tribune in downtown Tacoma. Early morning. (I don’t know why you suddenly stopped using upper case but I’m thankful nonetheless. As for your establishing shot, we got a what, a where and a when, so that’s good. However, since you’re once again using a real-world location, I’m sure your artist would love you if you provided him with a reference pic.)

Panel 2

Inside the Editor’s office. Harry, a stalky man in his fifties with salt and pepper hair, sits slumped at his desk playing online poker. He is glued to the monitor in front of him. (I’m guessing this will be a wide shot in order to properly establish the room but where’s the camera? If it’s in front or beside Harry, we won’t be able to see what he’s doing at the computer. If it’s behind him, we won’t see his face. So what’s important here, Jeff: Harry or online poker?)

RING! RING! RING! (That must be your letterer calling to ask WHAT is making that noise. Not only did you not start this line with the customary SFX header, but you also didn’t even include a phone in your panel description. At least the dialogue is in its proper place this time. While we’re at it, you could have had your phone ringing off panel in your establishing shot, thus getting rid of a silent opening panel.)

Panel 3

RING! RING! RING! (What’s this?)

Harry gives into the phone’s persistence, if only to shut it up. He puts the receiver to his ear but keeps his eye on the game. (This is prose writing, not a panel description.)

HaRRY

Y-ello. This is Harry.

(Beat) (?!)

You’re bullshitting me, right?

(No. This isn’t a screenplay, Jeff, this is a comic script. There’s no way to show the passage of time as you want it here since we’re only dealing in static images. You’re asking for three separate beats in the same image here. Beat 1: Harry picks up the receiver and the phone stops ringing (that was probably what your first RING! RING! RING! line was about). Beat 2: He answers and the person at the other end of the line talks. Beat 3: Harry’s disbelieving reply. Three beats, three panels, the way you have it. Let’s see… It’s been a while. Lisa, how would you do this in one panel?)

Panel 4

Whatever the caller has said, it has finally diverted his attention from his hand. (Extraneous prose.) Harry sits up straight to attend to business with a new demeanor, a sense of urgency. He jots down notes on a pad in front of him like an old pro. (That “bullshitting” line above? It would have worked here. Otherwise, this silent panel serves absolutely no purpose.)

Another quick page that really isn’t doing all that much. Granted, this is P2, and as such, the reader only has to slide their eyes over to the next page, but still, there is more than enough space here to give the reader bang for their buck. There is a LOT that can be done here, and you just aren’t doing it.

How do you slow down the pace? You can either add more panels, and since you only have 4 here, that’s pretty advisable. But the second way is to add dialogue. Looking at the pretty pictures is nice and all, but books are also meant to be read.

Give the readers something to read.

Right now, it’s P2, and all we really know is that a spaceship crashed 60 years ago. Is that screaming “interesting” to you? It isn’t to me.

(Page break) Page 3

PanEL 1

Two tall men (Ned and Miles in fact. If you know who these people are, say it. You’d only be helping your artist.) in black suits, and sunglasses, exit an elevator into a long hallway absent of any activity. The hall is plain, painted all dull-white, with closed doors sparsely lining the walls. (Where are we now? You didn’t do any establishing shots so most readers are going to assume this is taking place in the News Tribune building. The fact that you don’t have a page-turn acting as a psychological separation doesn’t help either.)

One of the agents, Ned, is a man of rather considerable proportion, tall and muscular. Ned wears a black neck tie. His counterpart, Miles, his physical opposite. Miles sports a tie that is not black. (The purpose of panels descriptions is to – what else? – describe panels, not characters. Put all your character descriptions in a separate document that your artist will use when the time comes to do the character designs – BEFORE he starts on the actual comic.)

Ned

You didn’t have a black tie?

Miles

Clearly.

NED

It’s just… I’d imagine your closet would be lined with ’em is all.

MILES

I’m trying something new.

PANEL 2

Outside of a door marked: ‘DIRECTOR’, Ned knocks while Miles stands by, adjusting his tie. (Another silent panel. Why not move the two last lines from the previous panel down here?)

Panel 3

Inside the office, it is classy but bland. A middle-aged man, Bruce, the Director, sits behind his desk. A pile of pistachios with a container for the shells occupy the desk space before him. He works on cracking a shell. (And where are Ned and Miles? Is this from their POV? Also, there was no invitation to come in nor did we see anyone opening the door. This is what we call a gap in border time, when something gets lost in the gutter (the space between panels) and we can’t tell how we went from one panel to the other.)

Bruce

What can I do ya’ for gentlemen? (Comma-fail)

Panel 4

On the two men standing before the desk. Miles takes the initiative to reply. (No need to specify that Miles does the talking; we can clearly see him having dialogue lines just below. The question becomes: what are they doing?)

Miles

Sir, Pinkus Warner has just made contact with the press.

Panel 5

On Bruce. He stares off blankly, weighing the consequences of this information, which is clearly bad news. (Everything I put in blue? Extraneous prose. If you want to write more, be more specific in your camera angles.)

BrUCE

Oh boy.

Finally! It took four pages, but we finally have some conversation! (I said conversation, which is a back and forth thing, not simply dialogue.) The problem with it? It’s not doing much. Especially the beginning.

Two guys step off the elevator. One says to the other, “Didn’t have a black tie?” And the other says…

See how that sounds like the setup of a joke? And the problem with it is that it is NEW conversation. It isn’t OLD conversation. And by “old,” I mean either a conversation they’ve had before, or a conversation we’re just coming in on. It’s new. This conversation just started. Banal, yes, uninteresting, yes, but it is doing part of a job, which is to reveal character. That’s the only good thing about the start of this dialogue.

The bigger problem is that there’s no indication of where this conversation is taking place. Are we still in the same building, or have we moved to a different location? You don’t say, and it doesn’t feel like we’re in the same place. That means your artist is going to ask. Do everyone the favor and let them know where this is taking place at.

And then there’s the gap in Border Time. I don’t mind jumps, but this is a decent swipe at it, because they’re never told to come in. They just knock, then teleport to the desk. This needs another panel.

(Page break) Page 4

Panel 1

Inside the Tribune Doyle sits at his desk in his office, fingers pecking at his keyboard. Doyle is a fit man in his early to mid thirties. He is somewhat plain, but not bad looking. (This goes in a separate document.)

The few achievements and journalism rewards he has earned are strategically placed on the wall behind him.

KNOCK-KNOCK! (Now the letterer is at your door! Put in the SFX header before dialogue lines for sound effects.)

Panel 2

Doyle’s typing does not skip a beat. (That’s nice but what should the artist draw?)

Doyle

Yeah?

Jen, his blonde, big-boned secretary steps in. (Where’s the camera? You’re just storytelling now, Jeff, you’re not writing a comic script!)

JEN

Harry wants you in his office, pronto. (Change that comma for a period. You want a hard stop, not a soft pause.)

DOYLE

Okay, tell him I’ll be right in.

JEN

He’s really worked up over somethin’, you’d better hurry before he goes ape-shit.

DOYLE

Okay, okay, I’m comin’.

(You have too much dialogue in this panel. Try to limit yourself to an A – B – A structure. Any more and you start covering too much art in the panel.)

Panel 3

Doyle walks through a busy maze of cubicles. The place buzzes with activity, everyone rushing to meet their deadline. It is not the establishment it used to be, the building in need of repairs and the equipment overdue for upgrades. A rundown newspaper company on its last leg. (You have an unhealthy mix of missing info, extraneous info and things that can’t be drawn here. Where’s the camera? In which direction is Doyle walking? What’s his expression? What is everyone doing? What do we care that “it is not the establishment it used to be”? How can the artist draw that the equipment is “overdue for upgrades”?)

Panel 4

Through a glass window with the blinds open Harry can be seen sitting at his desk. Doyle enters through the door to the right marked ‘Editor’. (I’m not sure of either the interest or the feasibility of showing this scene through blinds – even open ones. I think you’re only going to manage to hide parts of the panel with the blind slats.)

harry

Come in, shut the door. Take a seat.

PANEL 5

Doyle sits across the desk from Editor. (And you’re back to telling a story again. Once more: where’s the camera? What is everybody doing? What are their expressions?)

DoYLE

What’s with the urgency; I’m finishing a piece on–

harry

Do you remember General Pinkus Warner? Guy who up and vanished some 17 years ago.

DOYLE

Yeah, of course, but that’s old news Harry. (Comma-fail)

Panel 6

Close on Harry with a smirk of confidence.

Harry

Not if we found him.

We finally get up to six panels! Dialogue that generally makes sense! People saying things I can believe in!

The main problem here, Jeff, is that the panel descriptions are severely lacking.

I’m not much of a stickler for format. Stories can be told in many different ways. I’m a stickler for consistency, and I’m a stickler for what can and cannot be done within the space of a single panel.

Panel 2 is crap. Panel 2 is literally two panels, because you tried to the impossible and break Time. Your artist cannot draw panel 2, the way you have it written.

You have a knock, an answer, and then a person stepping through a door. The knock and answer is one panel, stepping through the door is another. Or you could have the knock in one, and then the answer and stepping through the door in the other. The first way is better, but your way doesn’t work. You cannot break Time. Time will not allow it, because Time is in service to the story.

I know what the problem is, though. It’s a trap, and you fell right into it. I’ll explain it when I run this down.

There’s one other problem I’m seeing. On every page, you’ve introduced a new character. Four pages, and you’ve got the saucer (a character for now until we get inside it), you’ve got Harry, and you’ve got four guys who the reader doesn’t have a name put to as yet. I’m only marginalizing the woman because she seems to be a very small facilitator. If she turns out to be a girl-Friday, then that’s another character introduced and not named. Not good. I’m hoping we get some names next page.

The end of this page could have been a decent page-turn. But it was squandered.

(Page break) Page 5

PaNEL 1

Doyle lights up.

DoYLE

What!?! Is that what you’re telling me?

HARRY

Well more like he found us, but yeah, we’ve got ’em. Exclusive in-depth interview.

DOYLE

No way! I can’t believe this!

(Beat)

Please tell me this story is mine and that’s why I’m in your office!

HARRY

Take it easy, Doyle, it’s yours. That’s the funny thing; he only agreed to do the interview with you.

Panel 2

Doyle sits staring in bewilderment. Harry continues on with the details.

HARRY

Flight for Mexico leaves in the morning. Shouldn’t be gone for more than a couple a days.

(Beat)

Now I know this goes without saying, but I’m gonna’ cover my ass, come right out and say it. This story is to be kept hush, hush.

(Beat)

Them other rags or the authorities get wind of this, they’ll be tracking you down like blood hounds for scraps.

PaneL 3

Their back-and-forth continues over Harry’s desk. Doyle can’t help but get the question out that’s chewing away at him.

DOYLE

Why do you think he asked for me? I mean of all the reporters out there…

HaRRY

Who the hell knows? Who the hell cares? He wants you, isn’t that enough?

(Beat)

This is the story of a lifetime here.

Panel 4

Harry gets back to his online poker game.

Doyle goes for the door as instructed, but turns back to give appreciation.

DOYLE

Thanks Harry.

This whole page? It’s completely useless to the artist. The only thing he’ll get out of this is the number of panels – and even then! Your use of “beats” to separate dialogue lines might hint at additional panels anyway. Missing camera angles, missing expressions, missing actions, moving panels, comma-fails as well as misplaced commas – this is anemic scripting at its worst. It’s like you completely lost sight of what you were supposed to do – give the artist the instructions he needs to tell your story by the way of images – and resolved to tell the story yourself. You’re telling the story as if you were speaking directly to the reader. You’re not. Your reader will never see this script, only the members of your creative team, and – as far as this page is concerned – it’s of no use to them. Like I said, I know why, but still, it’s a shame to see. Just to give you a better and more concrete idea of what I’m talking about, I’d like one of the TPG regulars to have a crack at this. Yes, the whole page. Rewrite it. Don U, up for it? Settle down, Yannick. You’ll get a shot, methinks.

(Page break) PAGE 6

Panel 1

Establishing shot of Doyle Nash’s home. It is a moderately large sized two-story house. (How about a reference pic? Also what time of day is this?)

Doyle (O.C.) (The usual term used is “OP” for “off panel”. “OC” is a screenplay term meaning “off camera”.)

I don’t have anything to wear.

Morgan (O.C.) (Want a cool lettering effect? Ask your letterer to draw a balloon that’s dripping suds to better illustrate she’s talking with a mouthful of toothpaste.)

Mphwat?

Panel 2

In the master bedroom of the house, Doyle is searching through shirts in the closet. His wife Morgan is in the adjacent bathroom brushing her teeth in front of the mirror, wrapped in a robe. (Where’s the bathroom relatively to the master bedroom?) There are open suit cases on the king size bed, half stuffed with clothes and traveling items.

DOYLE

I don’t know what shirt to take with me. I want something that says professional, but not afraid to get my hands dirty.

PANEL 3

Close on Morgan. She is beautiful with her hair pulled back into a ponytail. She removes the toothbrush from her mouth.

MORGAN

You are worse than a woman.

(Beat)

And I think your expectations are more than any shirt could possibly live up to.

(If you want separate balloons, don’t use “beats”. Instead use a second dialogue line, like this:

MORGAN

You are worse than a woman.

MORGAN

And I think your expectations are more than any shirt could possibly live up to.

PANEL 4

Doyle holds up two collar button-up shirts on hangers, one in each hand, comparing.

DOYLE

Wow, someone wake up with a case of smart-ass this morning?

(Beat)

I just want to make a good impression. It’s kind of a big deal.

(Beat)

Conspiracy theorists call him the ‘military’s D.B. Cooper’. Claim he stole massive amounts of ‘above top secret’ classified documents before going A.W.O.L. Just vanished, without a trace.

(Beat)

That is, until I go interview him.

MORGAN (O.C.)

Yeah, I, like the rest of the world, know who Pinkus Warner is. (If you’re going to do clumsy exposition dumps, the least you could do is not draw attention to it. Instead, find a way to incorporate the info in an organic way. What’s wrong with Morgan not knowing about Warner and asking questions? I mean, I generally know who D.B. Cooper is without having to look him up, but I’ll go out on a limb and say I’m not the average Joe. It’s okay to have a character who plays the part of the reader. This is Butler/Maiding without any need for it.)

DOYLE

I know, I just… Well, I’d never admit this to anyone but you, but I’m kind of nervous.

(Beat)

This could really be it for me.

(There’s no way you can fit all that dialogue in that one panel, let alone this page. Look at your panel count: you’re asking for 9 panels. That’s enormous! The more panels you ask for, the smaller they’re going to be and the less space in them for art and dialogue. And remember you’re going to need room to do two establishing shots: one for the house and another for the interior. Thus this panel is impossible to letter.)

PANEL 5

Morgan comes into the bedroom having finished brushing her teeth. (Where’s the camera?)

MORGAN

I thought the Ridgeway story was it for you. (If you need to emphasize text in speech balloons, underline it in the script. Italics or bold can get lost very easily depending on the type of font you use. I almost didn’t see it in this case.)

DOYLE

Yeah, I mean it was… but this one could really cement my worth; ya’ know? (Comma, not semicolon) Prove I’m not a one hit wonder.

(Beat)

I just don’t want to blow it.

PANEL 6

Morgan puts her hands on Doyle’s cheeks and kisses him on the lips. (Where’s the camera?)

MORGAN

You’ll do great, you always do.

Panel 7

Doyle moves in for more, sliding his hands inside the sides of her robe. (Where’s the camera?)

Panel 8

They share a deep, passionate kiss. (Where’s the camera?)

Panel 9

Morgan pries Doyle off her. (Everybody now: WHERE’S THE CAMERA? This is another page of bare storytelling, without any hint of actual scripting. Your artist gives up at this point and that’s why we’re stopping here.)

MORGAN

You’re gonna’ be late.

DOYLE

I don’t care.

Yeah, let’s run this down.

Format: You’ve done the difficult. You used Final Draft, and managed to totally screw up a Flawless Victory. There are Bolts & Nuts lessons that give a “proper” format. And I put proper in quotes because there really isn’t any such thing as a proper format. However, if you’re going to use a format, then at least let it be consistent. This isn’t consistent, which is why you screwed up the Flawless Victory.

Panel Descriptions: Like I said, you wrote this in Final Draft.

For the few of you that don’t know, Final Draft is a screenwriting program. For those who are used to writing screenplays, there’s a trick to using Final Draft to write comic scripts. The trick is simple concentration. Remember which medium you’re writing for.

You did one of two things, Jeff: you either forgot the medium in which you were writing for, or you didn’t study enough. I’m thinking it’s equal shares of both. It shows, and not just a little bit, either.

Final Draft is a trap for screenplay writers. The familiarity of use means that it is very easy to fall into old habits of not writing panel descriptions that can be drawn, and instead are writing directions for actors to perform. Some fall into the trap harder than others. You, Jeff, fell extremely hard for it.

Pacing: There may be a warrant out for your arrest, because the pacing here is criminal. By page, this is your panel count: 4, 4, 5, 6, 4, 9. The dialogue on the first three pages are almost negligible compared to the entirety of King Lear you shoved into a single panel on a 9-panel page.

Your panel counts should consistently be between 5-7, with the appropriate amount of dialogue to match. The first few pages are sped through, and then you bring everything to a dead stop on the 6th page with that ton of dialogue. Not good. It’s only P6. Things should be interesting and moving along. I gave you the benefit of the doubt with the first page basically being silent. I still stand by that. However, you failed to capitalize on it by actually telling the story in the pages after that.

Notice, I didn’t call any of this padding. There isn’t any padding here. Just a misuse of the space. I’m not telling you to cut anything. I’m telling you to expand, generally through dialogue. You have the space, so use it!

Dialogue: In the beginning, there isn’t enough of it, and near the end, there’s too much of it. Part of that is falling into the screenplay writing trap because of Final Draft. The other part of that is lack of study.

Dialogue should serve two purposes: reveal character and move the plot along. If it does both at the same time, so much the better. I don’t have a problem with the characters voices. They were all distinct. Not only that, they were conversations I could see happening. Good job there. Where you fall down is when you have conversations that should already have had happened, or when you butler/maid your audience for no reason.

And then, there’s the fact that only one person is named in these entire six pages. Only Harry gets to be named where a reader can see it. That’s terrible. Readers want to know character names. They want to know whom they’re following. It’s the same in screenplay writing. The only character who’s name is said is Harry’s, and he’s naming himself. There are organic ways to name almost everyone in these six pages. The obvious, clumsy way is through captions. The more elegant, more subtle, and sometimes more difficult way is through dialogue. Almost everyone could have been named through dialogue. Those who weren’t could have gotten their names in later. But when four to five people aren’t named in six pages, there’s a problem, especially when one of those characters appears for three pages.

Content: Meh. As a reader, I’m not that interested in this. That means, as a writer, you failed to capture my interest in your story. That’s never something any writer wants to hear. And it’s really a shame, because I like stories about aliens.

Editorially, I’d have to see what the story is in order to properly advise on how and where to expand it. It does need expansion in order to illuminate and capture reader attention. I don’t think it needs a rewrite, structurally. I definitely think you need more practice in writing for comics, though. There are resources around the web where you can find out how to write for comics. You don’t even need to leave the site if you don’t want to. Just head over to Bolts & Nuts. The first twelve weeks should be of particular interest and help.

And that’s all there is for this week. Check the calendar to see who’s next!

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Category: Columns, The Proving Grounds

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

Comments (10)

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  1. Final Draft is a great tool. I always used Word and formatted manually. I got FD to write more and faster. Depending on which version you use, there are options that help format so you can concentrate on content. There are even tutorials on each style of formatting.
    As far as everything else, FD isn’t going to help. Even if you were writing this as a screenplay there would be issues. Hopefully this is a first draft, and if so, you’re about to learn the golden rule of screenwriting: writing is all about rewriting. That applies to writing comics as well.

    Good luck.

  2. Alrighty, it’s been a while (busy busy) so lets see if I don’t ruin this.

    Panel 3

    View of Harry from above and behind the monitor. His eyes are fixated on the monitor with faint glow on his face and eyes. He’s leaning forward on the desk, phone held to his ear by a scrunched shoulder (no hands!).

    Harry (speech on right of Harry)
    Y-ello. This is Harry.

    Harry (speech on the left of Harry)
    You’re bullshitting me, right?

    What did I do?
    Dropped the SFX of the phone ringing, we already know it did in the last panel. If you want to show it having gone off several times include the ringing (as Steven suggested) in Panel 1 so you can have a clean convo in panel 3.

    POV with directions on Harry’s appearance and position. You’ve left it very vague and from the lack of description the panel hasn’t changed much from P1 and P2. I’ve given a different angle to mix it up. You might choose a different one, this is just the first that came to mind.

    Before you kill me Steven, I’ve seen this in comics a few times to display convos. It might not be the BEST way, but for one panel it could work. You could also just separate the speech bubbles to show a passage of time keeping them close to one another. Maybe an ellipsis between them (…) though that feels like a huge grammatical fail.

    Either way if you’re keeping this in one panel these are my suggestions.

  3. DonU says:

    “Yes, the whole page. Rewrite it. Don U, up for it?” -SF

    Challenge accepted, Steven.

    Page 5 ( 5 panels)

    Panel 1
    This is a medium shot of Doyle from Harry’s POV. Doyle is leaning forward and gripping the armrests of his chair. He looks both interested and confused.

    DOYLE: WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE FOUND HIM? DEAD OR ALIVE?

    Panel 2
    Reverse angle shot of Harry sitting behind his desk. He’s leaning back in his chair with both hands behind his head (it might be cool and/or gross to have yellowing pit stains here). Harry is grinning from ear to ear.

    HARRY: ALIVE, KICKING, AND READY TO GIVE AN EXCLUSIVE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW . . .

    HARRY: . . . TO YOU.

    Panel 3
    Close up on Doyle (favour Doyle’s right side so that his eye line is directed to the right side of frame). He’s elated.

    DOYLE: YOU’RE GIVING THIS TO ME? THIS IS A CAREER MAKER!

    DOYLE: THANKS, HARRY. I WON’T LET YOU DOWN.

    Panel 4
    This is a bust shot of Harry (the camera should be favoring Harry’s left side so that Harry is looking to the left side of the panel. Panel 3 and 4 help establish the camera’s axis to be on Doyle’s right side and Harry’s left side). Harry is now leaning forward, pointing one of his stubby fingers at Doyle (who is off frame on the left).

    HARRY: NO NEED TO THANK ME, DOYLE.

    HARRY: ACTUALLY, IT WAS WARNER WHO CONTACTED ME. HE SPECIFICALLY ASKED FOR YOU (you should be underlined) TO DO THE INTERVIEW.

    Panel 5
    A wide-angle profile shot of Doyle (left) facing Harry (right). Doyle is pointing to himself using his left hand. His head should be slightly turned towards camera as if he’s giving Harry a sideways look and giving the reader a better view of Doyle’s confused expression. Harry has his right hand up, palm forward (in the way you would use your hand to interrupt someone talking).

    DOYLE: REALLY? HE ASKED FOR ME BY NAME? WHY WOULD HE ASK FOR M …

    HARRY: I DON’T KNOW WHY HE WANTS YOU, BUT YOU’LL FIND OUT SOON ENOUGH WHEN YOU GET TO MEXICO. YOU’RE FLIGHT LEAVES IN THE MORNING.

    HARRY: DON’T TELL ANYONE WHAT YOU’RE UP TOO. THIS STORY BELONGS TO THE TRIBUNE. I DON’T WANT ANYONE SWIPPING OUR PULITZER.

    • DonU says:

      Doh! I used the wrong “to” in that last bit of dialogue. Thank goodness Steven doesn’t have a ruler long enough to reach my knuckles.

  4. Ruler? I was under the impression he straight up pistol whipped people who make grammatical errors.

  5. Liam Hayes says:

    Nope. It’s something far worse. An act so unspeakably horrific, grown men weep at the mere suggestion. It involves industrial lubricant, a collection of polished silverware and a garden gnome.

    I shall say no more… For the screams still haunt me.

  6. Kudos for taking a crack at TPG Jeff!

    I think in addition to making the artist’s job for difficult, using prose to “describe” panels and including character descriptions in the script also makes the scripting process more difficult (or at least more time-consuming). So if the panel descriptions are “straight to the point” and the character descriptions are hashed out before you start writing the script, then it frees you up some mentally while writing the script to focus on things that are more pressing/relevant to the script and advancing your story.

    Just my two cents.

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